Innocence and Rape Culture – Lady Gaga’s Response

**DISCLAIMER: This music video depicts graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.

     The idea of innocence is, and historically has been, ingrained in the stereotypical feminine ideologies of girlhood and the idea that young girls should remain corruption-free is ardently upheld by society. The complicated principle of this idea of girlhood innocence is addressed in Marah Gubar’s Keywords Essay, Innocence, as she asserts that “our culture has enthusiastically sexualized the child while denying just as enthusiastically it was doing any such thing”. Gubar explains that the appeal of girlhood innocence isn’t always in perfect purity as there is an underlying erotic function of the emphasis on the pure or unadulterated. It’s this marriage of the innocent and erotic that creates a fragile social barrier between girlhood and womanhood. The delicate ideology of girlhood innocence is easily disrupted upon engaging in sexual activity and this so-called moral violation has routinely been trailed by societal mistreatment. Whether this breach of innocence was intentional, through consensual acts, or outside the girl’s control, as in the case of sexual assault, has historically been of little focus in the midst of social criticism. This concept of a nonconsensual breach of innocence can be seen in both Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye and in Lady Gaga’s “Til’ It Happens to You” music video. Within her 20th century novel, Morrison included multiple instances of sexual assault and violence against women that resulted in societal damnation of the young female survivors. Her depiction of the damaging victim-blaming behavior by the adults in the text points to a greater focus on the existence of rape culture today. Much of society is still quick to vilify girls for corruption of their innocent stereotypes, whether or not the incident was consensual. The point this text makes on rape culture and innocence can be linked to the powerful visual representation given by Lady Gaga in her music video for “Til’ It Happens to You”. This song was written in accordance with the 2015 documentary film, The Hunting Ground, which addressed the disturbing amount of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses across the United States. The music video depicts multiple scenes of traumatic sexual assault and the ensuing emotional turmoil felt by the survivors as they attempt to function in a society that will not address this systemic problem. Both Morrison’s text and Lady Gaga’s music video tackle the difficult and essential job of creating a discourse on sexual violence and rape culture while shining a light on the societal issue of unjustly condemning young girls for a corruption of expected innocence.

4 thoughts on “Innocence and Rape Culture – Lady Gaga’s Response”

  1. Hi Monica, I like your topic about sexual violence with Lady Gaga’s case. I know that Lady Gaga has suffered sexual assault when she was young. And now she has the courage to discuss the experience with public and encourage other girls who has similar experience stand up to fight the sexual violence. She works hard for the female rights and public support the status of female and LGBTQ groups. It’s not respective for girl who suffered sexual violence and still need to critique “not innocent”. The innocence of person could not depend on her some specific experience. Society and government should provide more protection for girls and women avoid of sexual assault instead of blame them.

  2. After reading The Bluest Eye I actually thought of this song. Your connections here are really strong, the relationship of sex and innocence has always been interesting to me. It in a way is paradoxical how society in some of the works throughout class, and even now, wants girls to be innocent but rape is so heavily ignored. It is not hard to hear about a new case in the news that ends unjustly or with judgement like in Pecola’s case. People are only uncomfortable with the thought of it because society makes it that way instead of acknowledging the trauma and hardship of it. This is a great connection and post in general!

  3. Monica,
    Great job with this response! I have heard this song, and seen the documentary, The Hunting Ground, and it is truly impactful and thought provoking. Connecting this song, to the book The Bluest Eye was brilliant because in both the song and book, the rapes that occur are looked at as the fault of the victim. In The Bluest Eye, one of the women discussing Pecola’s rape even states “ought to. She carry some of the blame” (p. 189), insisting that Pecola should have fought off her father, and if she would have, then the rape would not have occurred. This was also true, in the documentary, The Hunting Ground, in which women would come forward with their rape stories, and they were often not believed, and if they were, the people who did it would face very loose punishments.

  4. Hi Monica!
    I think you made some really interesting points in this, and I think using The Bluest Eye and Lady Gaga’s song was a good chance. They show such drastically different viewpoints. One, the direct blame to girls for the loss of their innocence for something that they had no control over, and one that was more advocating for the victims. I definitely think that both texts are working in a way that calls attention to sexual assault, they just do it in different ways. I definitely agree, both works open up discussion of sexual assault and what it means for the victims and society. Great work!

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